Women’s Role Crucial in National Advancement

Women’s Role Crucial  in National Advancement Women’s Role Crucial  in National Advancement

The government respects and upholds women’s right to be active in the social, political, and economic spheres, and “is determined to support them with all its might,” said President Hassan Rouhani on Monday, renewing his pledge to support women’s economic and social development.

Addressing officials, experts, and activists in areas relating to women and families in Tehran, he said, “Neither women themselves, nor ethnicity or religion are the nation’s problems, and women are encouraged to show a stronger presence in various fields.”

The president said women must strive to have a larger share in endeavors that help in national development and advancement of policies under the Resistance Economy.

Resistance Economy is a set of policies proposed by the Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei to bolster economic self-reliance, augment domestic manufactures and curb dependence on oil export revenues.

Rouhani stressed that it is impossible for a country to make real and sustainable progress with half its population at home and absent from the national economic and industrial scene, IRNA reported.

Introducing to the world how Muslim women are involved in society is an important task of Iranian women, the president noted, adding that “Unlike the notions of certain factions, women indeed have the potential to help promote and sustain development more than ever before.”

Rouhani dismissed the idea that women can’t be both housewives/mothers and working women at the same time, and have to choose one.

“The idea that women’s safety and modesty is ensured only within the confinement of their homes is erroneous. We subscribe to meritocracy where there is no difference between men and women,” the president added.

 Many Challenges

Vice President on Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi, who was also present, spoke about the many challenges in the way of ameliorating women’s status, and said, “Progress has been slow but steady as the incumbent government inherited a society with economic inequalities and imbalances from the previous administration.”

Governor of Qasr-e-Qand city in Sistan-Baluchistan Province, Homeira Rigi, noted that women in Iran have undergone a transformation in identity and in issues concerning their welfare since the current government took office in 2013.

Other state officials, women’s rights activists, and artists, who participated in the meeting, hoped that the policies laid down or adopted by the Rouhani government would yield positive results soon.

 Squandered Potential

Iranian women are educated to much higher university levels than before but when they complete education their economic potential is often seen to be squandered.

Female participation in the labor force stood at 13.3% (over 63.2% for men) in the last Iranian year that ended in March, far lower than in developed countries. Figures by the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Affairs show more than 65.5% of educated Iranian women are jobless.

Fewer women hold professional, technical or managerial jobs in Iran, which is partly to blame on lack of opportunities, without which they are less ambitious and confident to move up the career ladder, resulting in a low percentage of women in high-level positions.

While the government believes that women’s participation could and should  help develop the economy and lead to growth, plans to tap into the full capacity of half of the population have so far been few and far between despite the rhetoric to turn things around.

According to a report by the Office of Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, problems associated with inequality and employment constitute 27% and 23% of women’s problems respectively, the Tejarat-e Farda weekly reported last month.

In fact, gender inequality is behind most of women’s problems since the traditional prevalence of patriarchal culture has had far reaching economic consequences. The belief that men are the main breadwinners is entrenched in the social psyche.